By David Colton
NATIONALS — Melvin Carnahan wasn’t always an athlete.
For most of his life, Melvin was known widely as a bird expert, amateur bowler and scholastic bowl runner-up.
When he finally caught his big break — the hockey team needed to fill a spot on the roster with a backup goalie — poor Melvin baked everyone on the team his famous double chocolate chip cookies.
What he didn’t know was that hockey, as it turns out, is a violent sport. In training for the playoffs, Melvin was forced to hold a piece of thin cardboard an inch or so away from his face with someone else’s face drawn on it, so his teammates could take turns punching it.
“After the first few times I got punched in the mouth I really amped up the encouragement,” said Melvin, who wears pleated khakis under his pads and calls fights between players ‘Ice Duels,’ “sometimes guys just need to punch something, you know?”
If Melvin did know, it was not clear. He admitted that he has never engaged in an altercation, let alone an Ice Duel. When it comes down to it, he said, it’s just not his cup of tea.
“If someone has a lot of demons, who am I to step in and say ‘No, you can’t act on those feelings’?” Melvin said between receiving punches.
The poor boy was cut from the team yesterday after one of his teammates broke little Melvin’s nose and Melvin immediately congratulated him on an accurate strike.